At Delhi’s RTR Marg, govt struggles to clear a 20-yr-old traffic jamdelhi Updated: Jun 11, 2018 11:07 IST
In nearly 41 months, only 42% of work on the RTR flyover has been completed. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Sixty five-year-old Mahesh Sinha has been a resident of south Delhi’s Vasant Enclave for over two decades. He says as long as he has lived here, he has seen construction work underway along the Outer Ring Road at the Rao Tula Ram Marg junction.
In 2009, a single-carriageway flyover was constructed here, which instead of clearing traffic, created bottlenecks. Since then, multiple solutions have been tried, the final one being a “parallel flyover”.
Delhi’s Public Works Department (PWD) has been racing against time to meet the December 2018 deadline to complete the 2.7km-long three-lane flyover that will run parallel to existing Rao Tula Ram (RTR) Bridge connecting south Delhi with the airport. So far, PWD has managed to complete 42% work in over three years.
“They constructed a one-way flyover first, and then they started movement from both sides to get the traffic moving. Now they are constructing another flyover. This road has been perennially choked and unending construction work is making things worse,” said Sinha.
This “unending construction” has turned the stretch — from Munirka Flyover to Vasant Vihar, RTR and Palam Road— into a traffic nightmare, as airport-bound commuters have to wade through heavy traffic.
Change in plans
Both the PWD and the Delhi Traffic Police have tried to implement several measures to ease the traffic in this area the past few years.
“This spot has been a problem area and no alteration has worked successfully here. Though at peak hours we deploy additional staff here, the coming of the flyover should make things better,” said joint commissioner of police (traffic) Garima Bhatnagar.
As per Delhi Traffic Police estimates, the stretch has a daily vehicular movement of around 1.5lakh vehicles during peak hours. Most of the traffic gets stuck at the foot of the existing flyover, trying to manoeuvre their way onto the flyover.
According to plans which were drafted in 2006, the RTR Flyover was supposed to have twin carriageways. However, in 2009 the flyover was inaugurated as a single-carriageway road.
Officials said the RTR flyover was be turned into a single carriageway because certain residents said it would be a constant cause of noise pollution.
In 2014, Vasant Vihar residents approached the Delhi High Court seeking a halt on the construction of a second flyover being made there. The court slammed authorities and said the first flyover was a “misadventure”. It asked PWD to explain why it was built only with a single-lane.
The ‘second’ flyover
In November 2014, the project for the parallel flyover on RTR Marg was floated with a budget of ₹278 crore and was scheduled to be completed in 2016. However, 41 months later, only 42% work has been completed. This means authorities, so far, have managed an average construction speed of less than 1% per month.
The final plan for the three-lane flyover states that it will start from the Munirka petrol pump and end before National Highway 8, close to the Army Hospital at Subroto Park. The older bridge will be restricted for commuters moving from the airport to Delhi.
PWD officials say the delays were triggered by late permission for cutting of trees, shifting of utilities, residents’ opposition and financial problems with the construction company.
‘Traffic snarls are a part of life’
Rajiv Sodhi, who runs an internet café in Vasant Vihar market, says the “unending” construction here has led to severe traffic and pollution issues.
“Park your car here only for a few hours and witness a thick layer of dust all over it. Irrespective of peak hours the traffic snarls in the area have now become part and parcel of our life. It was not the case before the construction started,” Sodhi said.
Residents also claimed that construction work and the jams have affected property prices. “This is an upscale neighbourhood, but the jams and the constant construction work across the boundary have led to a decrease property rates here,” said Prabhu Sharma, a resident of Vasant Enclave.
The delay is particularly problematic for people travelling to and from the airport. T Venkatramani, a resident of Anand Niketan who has to regularly fly outstation for work, said he tries to book early flights because anytime after 7am the intersection is difficult to cross. “Ideally the distance from here to the airport is barely half hour. But if your flight is during the day, you have to keep an hour or two in hand.”